Puerto Escondido , Isla Wager

47 45.9 S 74 53.7 W

This morning at 0630 the sky is just starting to lighten in the east, there are a few breaks in the clouds, and stars and planets shine through. The lagoon is glassy calm reflecting the twilight.

These sound like good conditions for crossing El Golfo. Sucker conditions. It is about 65 nautical miles from here to Cabo Raper ( pron. ‘ra-pair’, named after a colleague of Lecky’s who also wrote a navigation textbook, I guess navigators were the gods of the early explorers) which is at the tip of the Peninsula Tres Montes. That would take us at least 12 hours to get there. From there we would have another 20 to 50 miles to get to an anchorage or sheltered waters. Really , we need 24 hours of favorable conditions to cross the gulf.

If we arrived off the cape and conditions became adverse, we could turn tail and run into Seno Hoppner for good shelter. However getting out of there would be no easier than here.

Unfortunately, there are a series of fronts and depressions coming over us for the next few days. They are bringing persistent N or NW winds with only short breaks of calm or SW winds. Not really enough to get us past the exposed area. Mar: muy gruesa -seas , very rough.

In some ways it is more complex than an ocean crossing. The risk of being caught on a lee shore is ever present until the end of the crossing.

Every region has it’s feared capes. Cape Cook , Cape Scott, Cape Conception etc etc. Cape Horn is a problem if you are trying to round it from east to west offshore, but not the way we did it. Scuttling around from a near anchorage.

Cabo Raper and the Gulf of Penas is an area with a bad reputation all along the coast of Chile. Many boats have had problems here.

So we wait. And watch the weather. And think about the weather.

Yesterday, the rain stopped by early afternoon so we raised anchor and headed out around the NE side of Isla Schroeder, in the passage to the SW of Isla San Pedro to visit a new and different anchorage. It is called Puerto Escondido on the chart ,’hidden port’. It is a little SE facing nook with a fisherman’s rope across it. We are secured to it , with a view to the SE . We are only a couple of miles from where we were anchored for the last two days – to the north at the other end of the lagoon separating Islas Wager and Schroeder. Right next to us is the entrance to Laguna Byron. Looks like the weather will be OK for some more exploration today.

Our original anchorage , called Caleta Ideal was fine. No wind protection and it did blow 30 knots or more. However the holding was good and we dumped all 175′ of chain and another 50′ of line into about 25′ of water , so we were well scoped and held. As we came out of the lee of Isla Schroeder yesterday we got a little taste of the confused, square seas in the gulf. A real mess , with boat stopping waves every few seconds. We certainly could not maintain 5 knots in those conditions. It would be difficult enough to hold down stomach contents.

While we wait I am reading Byron’s account of the Wager’s shipwreck here on May 14 , 1741. A dismal account of death , survival , and human behavior at its worst and perhaps best. A good read from inside a warm boat. I look out onto the very terrain where they tried to survive for months. I am also reading from the detailed journal of Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle. I got this in pdf format from Denis in Puerto Williams, along with several other primary source articles and books. Fantastic access to information even out here. Fitzroy and his crew spent years surveying and exploring this coast. The detail of description is amazing , and easily recognizable, particularly since nothing has changed since they were here.

We also have a copy of Nick Coghlan’s book “Winter in Fireland” which chronicles that couple’s trip (in a Vancouver 27) along the same route as we are doing. They were a month or so later in the year. They waited in the same area for about 2 weeks or more , for suitable conditions. Wolfgang on the Patagonian Cruisers radio net cheerily told us that the yacht ‘Andiamo’ had to wait for a month to cross the gulf. That would be hard to imagine.

The weather is distinctly warmer , around 7 degr this morning. A huge difference from 3 degr. The heater is on the lowest setting , I only wear one sweater , and no long johns.

We endured a movie called ‘Trespass’ with N. Cage last night. Thumbs down.

Here is our little problem. Now that we are not moving from dawn to dusk, we have more time on our hands. Time to think , and do emails. Naturally, our correspondents still carry on with their busy lives , little realising that two or even three times a day we download weather maps and , hopefully , email messages from friends and family. Also since the electrical supply situation is good and the Sailmail connection issues are much less inhibitory we can send and receive text messages pretty much willy-nilly. Technical questions for me, and personal questions for Ric would be welcome , along with suggestions for living a better life , in the same categories to the same crew members.

That’s it , finally.

So , drop us a line either by blog comment or to the sailmail email address. We may be right here for 3 or 4 days (or more).

Ideal Cove , Wager Island

It’s blowing and raining and we are not going anywhere. Might be few days before we do move. The 4 days of good weather seemed to go on and on and we were able to travel 220 miles.

We both explored the lagoons in the kayak today. Saw otters , vultures, Rayaditos and Caracaras.

Now we wait , reading ,watching movies (The Bourne Supremacy)*, eating.

Not going out into the Golfo de Penas until conditions are good. Could be a week or two or three. We will wait.

Over the next few days there are 40 knot winds from the NW predicted with up to 7 or 8 meter seas.

No place for little boats.

The lightkeeper from the SanPedro Lighthouse , a couple of miles away, called on the VHF this morning to keep us up to date with the forecasts.

John of Faraway is still in Puerto Natales and he is emailing his weather analysis to us as well.

For dinner we had Quinoa with homecanned sausage that Meredith had put up in LaPaz. The lid was still concave, so we should be OK.

* Ric says that the moral lesson of the movie was that “a good man cannot be caught by the police of any country”, and that ” there is an inner Bourne in all of us”

It’s a worry

Tomorrow , big plans: move to another nearby cove for a change of scenery, get several weather reports, perhaps try to cobble together some pancakes.

Reading the Journal of John Byron and the account of the Loss of the Wager: people died here after long suffering.

Isla Wager

Now anchored at Isla Wager , Caleta Ideal, near San Pedro lighthouse,at the north end of Canal Messier , ready to cross the Golfo de Penas. Except the weather tomorrow is expected to be bad. So we will stay here to await better conditions. A 13 hour motoring trip today. Light headwinds and overcast all day.

This is where John Byron , Lord Byron’s grandfather , was shipwrecked. An amazing survival story. Googleable